The primary reason that drugs, such as Xanax, are so popular, especially with young people, is that they work. These medications relieve feelings of stress and anxiety and can cause feelings of euphoria. Another draw of Xanax for teenagers is that it can boost feelings of confidence.
Initially, the potential of Xanax to become frequently prescribed seemed unsure. However, in the three decades since it hit the market, it has skyrocketed to being the top psychiatric drug, with nearly 50 million prescriptions written each year.
Why Do Teens Take Xanax?
Recalling your own teenage years, it can be easy to understand why is Xanax so popular; consider the effects of Xanax and it becomes clear why teens take Xanax. The teenage years are often associated with stress, anxiety, and insecurities. These are reason enough for many teens to experiment with this type of drug.
Anxiety disorders surpass the severity of average adolescent stress and anxiety. It is becoming apparent that these are more prevalent than many may have thought and have been steadily increasing in recent years. Between 2007 and 2012, the rate of anxiety disorders among teens increased by 20%. Researchers now estimate that over 30% of teens will meet the diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder between the ages of 13-18.
Whether this increase in anxiety disorders can be tied to the increasingly fast pace of the world, being constantly connected through our phones, or rising expectations, it can be seen as one major reason why teens take Xanax. Teens who experience clinically diagnosable anxiety may use Xanax and other drugs to self-medicate, while others who do not experience such high levels of anxiety may simply enjoy the feeling that the drug gives them.
Some prescription medications, such as opiates, have been in the news nationwide for their addictive nature and high risk for overdose. While benzodiazepines such as Xanax may be equally dangerous, these risks have been overshadowed by the growing opiate crisis. Many people initially did not believe that opiates were dangerous because they were prescribed by doctors and approved by the FDA. Despite being a prescription medication, Xanax is also very dangerous, especially when not taken as prescribed and under a doctor’s care.
Effects of Xanax on Teenagers
The acute intoxication caused by Xanax can be enough to negatively affect the lives of teens. After all, it is hard to do well in school and be mentally present when poor concentration, memory problems, and confusion are some of the common effects of Xanax use. However, these effects of Xanax on teenagers may be more severe than acute intoxication effects. Some researchers have reported apparent irreversible changes in the brains of long-term Xanax users. While more research is needed, it is known that the teenage brain is more malleable, and thus, more vulnerable to the damaging effects of drugs. The effects of Xanax on the brain, including permanent damage in teens, raise increased concern over kids taking Xanax.
Dangers of Taking Xanax for Fun
In addition to the startling health risks of Xanax for teens, there are further reasons for concern. Some teens may believe that taking Xanax for fun is harmless or that they are aware of their limits and can, therefore, avoid long-term negative effects. However, these commonly held beliefs can cause teens to ignore other major risks.
Xanax and Trauma Risk
Researchers have found that for approximately half of teens, substance use disorders put teens at a high risk of trauma later on. Substance use increases the risk of harm due to other high-risk behaviors such as accepting rides from strangers, going to unsafe locations and driving intoxicated. The high-risk environments a teen may enter due to substance use put them at a higher risk of being physically harmed or witnessing the assault of someone else. Further, substance use may reduce inhibitions or impair a person from defending themselves which may result in an increased vulnerability to sexual assault.
While the FDA approval of Xanax may lead many to believe this drug is safe, it is possible to overdose and die when using it. The rate of teen overdose death, including Xanax overdose, has steadily risen as the use of Xanax has become more popular. This risk is even higher when Xanax is used along with other drugs.
Another overlooked risk of teen Xanax abuse, likely due to the perceived safety caused by its prescription medication status, is addiction. Xanax, like many other drugs, can cause physical dependence, in addition to a sense of psychological dependence. Young teens getting addicted to Xanax may find that they are unable to stop using it despite experiencing negative consequences. Others may find that when they attempt to stop using it, they experience withdrawal.
While overshadowed in the media by the opioid crisis, Xanax addiction continues to be on the rise. If you are concerned about your Xanax use or are a parent seeking help for your teen, representatives at Next Generation Village are available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have and connect you to the help you need. Recovery is real and is possible at any age. Reach out today to start on your recovery journey.Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.